Poison Control: Why You Should Take The “My” Out of “My Ex-Narcissist”

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” What a huge lie we all grew up with on the playground at school. Actions may speak louder than words, but words DO hurt us, even our own. They also have the power to influence or destroy, liberate or enslave, encourage or shatter, and attach or disconnect.

Perhaps, that’s why I just cringe every time I hear someone or myself say, “MY ex-narcissist.” I recognize that many people might think I am making a big to-do about these 3 little words, but every word we say matters. Words are so important; even more than we realize. They literally shape our perceptions and our inner reality. The words we choose, not only have a gigantic impact on our listeners but on ourselves as well.

When we attach the word “MY” to our ex-narcissist (my ex-narcissist), we are expressing belonging, possession, and association. Why the heck would we want to fasten ourselves for eternity to one those creatures, and all the associated negative memories? Aren’t we trying to do the exact opposite? Isn’t the goal to completely disconnect from them, and the memories of their abuse?  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could develop narc-amnesia, and erase them entirely from our recollection, and memory bank? Well, it’s never going to happen if we continue to refer to them as “MY” ex-narcissist.” By using the word “MY” they become part of us forever and stay embedded in our psyche, like an incurable cancer.

Eskimos have 50 words for snow, and 70 words for ice. If the Eskimos can figure out 70 different ways to describe the English word for ice, then certainly we can figure out another way to describe the ex-narcissist from our past.

Still thinking I’m making too much of a fuss over the phrase “MY ex-narcissist”? Tony Robbins tells a true story about a company that used the power of “transformational vocabulary” in his book titled, Awaken The Giant Within. By changing just one word in their corporate culture, a nationwide trucking company named PIE cut erroneous shipping errors from 56% to 10% in just 30 days. What was the one word they changed? Instead of calling their employees “workers” or “truckers” they changed their job title to “craftsmen.” Nothing else changed except their job title, yet the workers began to see themselves as craftsmen and began taking more pride in their work, ultimately saving the company a quarter million dollars a year.

If you are still struggling with moving on from the narcissist in your past, maybe it’s time to apply the power of “transformational vocabulary” to amputate the narcissist from your psyche, by altering your vernacular. As a replacement for “MY” ex-narcissist, select a phrase that disclaims the narcissist and permanently evicts him, or her, from your custody. If you are skeptical if this little word change can really make you feel better, just think of the results a simple word change did, for the company PIE, in as little as 30 days!

“By changing your habitual vocabulary, you can actually modify how you think, feel, and experience. Specifically, altering the words you use to speak of and think about any situation, you can deliberately change your emotional state and your life experience”. ~Tony Robbins

I heard someone refer to their ex-narcissist as “the infestation.” Not her infestation, just “the infestation.” I thought it was fantastic. I’m also fond of “what’s his face.” This phrase is a conscious choice to deliberately decrease any link, or connection to the narcissist, and his significance in the world. People remember the names of people who are important to them, the ones that aren’t, not so much.

Words have the power to obstruct connection or invite it. They frame our perceptions and shape our emotional experiences. What words can you think of to replace the phrase “My” ex-narcissist?

Copyright © 2015 Bree Bonchay. All Rights Reserved.


Bree Bonchay, LCSW, is a psychotherapist with over 18 years of experience working in the field of mental health and trauma recovery. She specializes in helping people recover from toxic relationships and shares her insights about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and psychopathy in her blog FreeFromToxic. Her articles have been featured in major online magazines and she has appeared on radio as a guest expert. She is also a dedicated advocate, educator, and facilitates survivor support groups and workshops.

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45 thoughts on “Poison Control: Why You Should Take The “My” Out of “My Ex-Narcissist”

  1. Reblogged this on thephoenixagain and commented:
    Yes! Before I even knew what I was doing I stopped calling him “mine”. He certainly wasn’t “mine” during the relationshit, why on earth would I want to claim him after the completely horrible (and criminal) things he did? I usually keep it pretty simple, “the ex narcopath, the ex, douchecanoe, Crazy Asshole.” Definitely not MINE.

  2. Interesting post. I hadn’t thought of that way. At this point, the psycho boy I knew, is just a faded memory… just someone I used to know. Since my (OK?) D&D, I have moved on to many things which bear absolutely no connection to him. It’s a wonder!

    Whatever he’s doing, he’s her (his current OW) problem now. Sometimes, I’d like to send him a thank you note for the D&D because I’ve found the real me again…stronger, healthier, better than ever! I don’t though. He’s my past. I’m looking forward to my future! I think it will be an exciting one!

    I don’t need a man to take care of me, and I don’t need one to take care of. No more fixing or saving any, or swallowing their pity poor me stories! I’m feeling happy and fulfilled without a man. Most of all – No more psychopaths or narcissists!

    Growing up, I heard the most horrible advice… get a man and be taken care of the rest of your life (never happened! LOL)…get married, you gotta snare or hook a man or you are nobody without one! None of which is true! So glad to see society evolving whereby little girls are no longer fed this kind of crap.

    I enjoyed the post. Thank you for sharing!

  3. I think this is great advice. I have been known to say “my poet” by way of specifying it v. the formers (ex’s) in my life that are gone but respected. I cringe a little when I do it but it’s expedient. The one thing I am diligent about is to say “Targets” v. victim.

  4. Thank you for writing to those of us who have this experience and leading us back to ourselves. Knowing we’re not alone is a great gift & comfort.

    1. Jenna, I’m so glad you relate to my blogs and find comfort knowing that you are definitely not alone. Thank you for commenting and know that your journey will lead you to a strengthened and happier you. 🌹

  5. I call the narcs the husband’s psycho relatives, I don’t have in-laws. Someone I know commented about how mean that sounded, I told them they wouldn’t think so if they had ever had any experiences with them. They’re toxic to just about every single “outsider” that dares marry one of them. When they run out of outsiders, they cannibalize.

  6. Hi, Bree! I like “What’s-his-face” as it eventually becomes so. What’s his face, again? I can’t even remember! Yes, it is much more empowering to have amnesia about somebody that I used to know, than amnesia about what a taker and a user or abuser somebody was, and leaving a crack in the door for them to slither in. It’s stover fo sho. Also, I do hear experts say to use the word “the” and not “my”, for example, when talking about cancer or illness. So I agree with you that it is very fitting! 🙂

    1. Love it…funny is that is what I called the man in Colorado theatre-shooting…I would not repeat his name or give him any credit or attention!!! Wha’t his face? What’s his name? Don’t know and don’t care. This is all he deserves! Nothing! My friend just used that term for her ex when he ran off with “Tootsie”!!!

  7. Bree, gotta admit I’m guilty of using “my” when referring to narcissists I have known intimately. You do make a good point here. Especially if we have gone No Contact with them, saying “my” negates our disengagement from them. I think it’s going to be a hard habit to break though.

        1. That’s a good one too. I’ve talked about being ‘infected’ by them so maybe I can use that, or just refer to my ex as “The destroyer” or “Narctard” or something.

  8. Reblogged this on Lucky Otter's Haven and commented:
    Bree makes an excellent point here about the habit so many of us have when referring to the narcissists we have known intimately as “my” narcissist. Unfortunately I’m guilty of this. But it’s stupid when you think about it, referring to narcs this way, especially if we’ve gone No Contact, we have disengaged and disowned them so why would we still refer to something we no longer have or want as “my”? I’m reblogging this because I think it’s important for victims of narcissistic abuse to get out of this habit because little words like “my” can have the effect of keeping us emotionally connected, even if we no longer have contact with them.

  9. This reminds me of a verse in Proverbs that says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” I have definitely found that the words we speak are extremely powerful — almost miraculously so.

    I sometimes refer to the worst narcissist in my life as “the momster.” 🙂

  10. As one would say my ex, so one would say my ex narc. If he was YOUR ex, WHOSE ex do you want to describe him/her as? It simply means it’s YOUR ex (who happens to be a narc), not your neighbour’s ex. It is also shorter for ‘the man/woman I was once married to’, or the ‘the man/woman I was once married to, who I later realized was a narcissist, abuser and manipulator’. Which is quite a long statement. My ex, or my ex narc is short. Same way, one would say my narc father, not the narc father to whom I happened to be born.
    Why everyone looks for pathology behind where there is none? It’s just making a simple thing complicated in my view. I totally agree with changing how we refer to ourselves (as in example of craftsman). We are survivors rather than victims. That definitely helped me HEAPS! But I think we should call narcs/sociopaths/psychopaths what they are – just that. My strong feeling is that most narcissists by what people describe about them are underdiagnosed psychopaths (if they have been diagnosed at all, in most cases people just don’t want to go to that word, so just call them narcissist, doesn’t sound all that scary).
    The pathology has a name. We should not be afraid to use it or minimize it and keep it professional instead of resorting to all sorts of pejoratives.

    1. Hi Anna, I definitely agree most narcissists are undiagnosed sociopaths and psychopaths. I personally just say, ” the ex socio”, instead of “my”. It’s the same concept for people with cancer, not to call it my cancer”. But it’s a personal decision. Thank you for sharing your opinion. ~ Bree

  11. Someone called him a nasty little malignant cancer in my heart,that needed to be removed~cut out & it would hurt,but was necessary for my survival.
    I call it malicious personality disorder,covers everything really

  12. This is so true, words have great power, perhaps more than physical action because they reveal our state of mind. When using “MY” it is sadly a continued “investment” in them as part of your life. When using anger to refer to them, like “That Asshole,” even that is a continued investment. I did just use it, “asshole,” on another site when referring to how he would swat me with a towel, but it has been so long now I actually had no feeling about it, it was just fun to say, it’s been so long and that is his personality, even according to him.

  13. Pingback: Poison Control: Why You Should Take The “My” Out of “My Ex-Narcissist” | Uniquely Toronto
  14. Dear Bree, many thanks for your wonderful work, there are so many victims of these toxic people out there. And I do feel sorry for both the victim and the abuser, as it can’t be easy for either. I am busy divorcing a person who is a narcissitic sociopath, a wolf in sheep’s clothes. That is perhaps how I will remember her, the wolf in sheep’s clothes, or just the one that abused me (and taught me valuable lessons of life, like not trusting everyone…)

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